Wednesday, July 02, 2014

What’s new in tech

A simple way to connect

It may be a million-dollar app, but it sure doesn’t do much, said William Alden and Sydney Ember in Yo, a new offering from Mobli CEO Moshe Hogeg, lets users send the two-letter greeting in a text and audio message to friends just by tapping their name on a contact list. The app has already found a following among World Cup fans, with anyone who sends a Yo to “WORLDCUP” receiving a Yo notification each time a goal is scored. But the startup, which announced last week that it has raised over a million dollars in funding from angel investors, says the app has the potential for a broader impact, calling it “a lightweight, nonintrusive way to communicate.”

Facebook to track browsing 

Facebook is watching you, said Christina Bonnington in The social networking giant has announced “that it is going to make ads better” by tracking users’ “Web and app browsing habits.” The data will be analyzed to better target the ads Facebook displays on individual users’ news feeds. The social site will gather cookies accumulated while surfing the Web, as well as track people hitting the “like” buttons embedded on most websites. Luckily, “this new feature is opt-out,” and users who wish to disable tracking can visit the Digital Advertising Alliance ( to alert Facebook and other outlets that they are not interested in being tracked on the Web.

Smartphones to add kill switches

Your smartphone may soon get more secure, said Christie Smythe and Todd Shields in Google and Microsoft each announced that they would add “kill switches” to their operating systems “as evidence mounts that such security measures may be deterring theft.” The decision comes as the smartphone industry faces increased pressure to develop technologies that will allow owners to disable their devices if they are lost or stolen. Law-enforcement authorities believe this move can help “curb resale potential” for stolen phones, and thus deter theft. Apple incorporated a kill switch into its iPhone software last year, a move officials say dramatically reduced iPhone robberies in New York City, San Francisco, and London. The Federal Communications Commission is also exploring the issue and plans to put forth recommendations on kill switch technology by the end of the year.

Innovation of the week

A new health-tracking device may cut down on your doctor visits, said Ainsley O’Connell in The gadget, called Cue, is a small piece of hardware “that puts lab-quality medical testing in the hands of consumers.” Using the swab-like “wand,” Cue users can take biofluid samples from their nose and “load the wand into a pale green cartridge roughly the size of a thumb drive.” The sample is then analyzed, and test results are delivered to a Bluetooth-paired smartphone app within minutes. The system, which is expected to ship next spring for $199, “will be able to test for fertility, influenza, inflammation, testosterone, and vitamin D” using five separate color-coded cartridges. Cue’s inventors hope the device will provide more medical information to patients, giving them quick and easy access to vital health data.
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